Fourth UN agency in Jordan dumps G4S

Under pressure from campaigners, four of six UN agencies in Jordan have dropped contracts with G4S. (via Facebook)

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Jordan has announced it will no longer contract with G4S.

The group Jordan BDS hailed the decision as a victory for its year-long campaign, which included a meeting with WFP officials and an open letter signed by dozens of Jordanian organizations to urge the UN agency to end the contract.

This makes WFP the fourth out of six UN agencies in Jordan to ditch the world’s largest security company, following pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

G4S provides services to Israeli prisons and equipment for checkpoints along Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

The World Food Program’s contract with G4S was worth $900,000 in 2015, according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC). WFP will now contract with local firms.

Over the last year, three other UN agencies in Jordan – the refugee agency UNHCR, the children’s fund UNICEF and operations agency UNOPS – have ended their contracts with G4S.

UN development program UNDP and UN Women are the two agencies that still use the firm.

Building pressure

The decision by the World Food Program in Jordan comes a week after G4S announced it had dumped most of its business in Israel.

On 2 December, the London-based company sold its Israeli subsidiary to Israeli private equity firm FIMI for about $111 million.

But this does not end the company’s work in Israel. G4S still helps run the police training center Policity with FIMI and provides services to infrastructure and real estate group Shikun & Binui in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“The campaign against G4S in the region is intensifying from Kuwait to Lebanon to Morocco, and we shall not stop until G4S completely and fully withdraws from its remaining contracts with the police academy and the settlements,” Guman Mussa, Arab World coordinator for the BNC, said.

The BNC says that the firm has lost contracts worth more than $22 million around the world as a result of the ongoing Stop G4S campaign.

The campaign highlights the security firm’s contracts with Israeli prisons, which hold thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, including children.

Heading for the exit

G4S announced in March that it would leave Israel, promising all business in the country would be over within 12 to 24 months. It also promised to end its work in US “youth justice services” and UK “children’s services.”

“The BDS movement is also committed to supporting campaigns by other justice movements against G4S for its role in the racist private prison and immigrant detention systems in various countries,” the BNC’s Mussa said.

The Financial Times reported in March that by selling these businesses, G4S would be “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”

G4S joins French multinationals Veolia and Orange and the Irish building materials firm CRH in exiting the Israeli market after facing sustained campaigns from BDS activists.

G4S denies that BDS has played any role in its decision to sell its Israeli subsidiary.

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Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.